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The New Prospect Trade List

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Back in December I wrote two articles identifying those Cub prospects most likely to be traded. I think it’s time to redo that list, in large part because half the players on my original list have already been traded. The original list, in no particular order was:
– Thomas Diamond – now with Iowa
– Robinson Chirinos – traded to Tampa
– Marquez Smith – now with Iowa
– Hak-Ju Lee – traded to Tampa
– Jay Jackson – extended spring training with elbow tendinitis
– Sam Fuld – traded to Tampa

The new list looks rather different from the original. I shortened it to five, and only one reappears from the December edition. Remember that this is not a list of top prospects or of players I think the Cubs should trade, but of players I think are likely to be traded for a variety of reasons.

Marquez Smith
Two factors combine to keep Smith on this list: Josh Vitters and Darwin Barney. Vitters is off to a very good start in Tennessee and it is starting to look likely that he could be ready to take the third base job from Ramirez in 2012. That would mean Smith may not be necessary to help fill in between Ramirez and Vitters. If, for some reason, the Cubs do need someone to fill in at third, they already have Blake DeWitt on the major league roster. Now that Darwin Barney has taken over second base, DeWitt would easily be available to fill in for a time at third. I think Marquez Smith is going to get his shot at the majors, I just think it is more likely that shot comes with someone other than the Cubs.

Steve Clevenger
Steve Clevenger has been stuck in Tennessee for awhile now. His production there has been solid, consistently hitting over .300 and not striking out much. He does not have a lot of power, but a low strikeout .300 hitter should get more than 68 games in Triple A, right? Not necessarily. Clevenger had bad luck to show up in the same Cubs system as Wellington Castillo and Robinson Chirinos. Even though Chirinos has been traded, Clevenger is still blocked from Iowa by Castillo (when he’s healthy again) and Max Ramirez. His strikeout to walk ratios make me think Clevenger could do pretty well as a back up catcher and bat off the bench, but I don’t think he’s going to vault past Wellington Castillo anytime soon. Meanwhile, Michael Brenly and Micah Gibbs are going to need promotions one day. With Clevenger effectively blocked by Soto and Castillo, a trade might work out well for everyone.

Tony Campana
Drafted in 2008, Tony Campana has risen quickly through the Cubs system. He’s a small, fast, left handed outfielder without much power, but who has drawn praise for playing hard. In any other year Cub fans would be eyeing this guy with interest, hoping he could be a speedy bat off the bench, or maybe even a true lead off hitter. This season, however, he is completely overshadowed by the left handed, somewhat less speedy, much more powerful Brett Jackson. He could still be a fourth outfielder heading into 2012, but given that both Jackson and Colvin are left handed and that there are some outfield bats with more power not far behind him, I think Campana is very movable.

DJ LeMahieu
This guy can hit. There is no doubt this guy can hit. Unfortunately, he doesn’t quite have the power to play third base. I think he has a great shot to emerge as a very solid defense second baseman and have a long major league career there, but at the rate Darwin Barney is going second base in Chicago won’t be available for a very long time. Assuming Barney keeps playing like this and Vitters takes third, LeMahieu could still be valuable as a bat off the bench. In that scenario, though, I think the Cubs would prefer to have a veteran coming off the bench to help stabilize their very young infield, and that leaves LeMahieu looking for work. With Logan Watkins, Matt Cerda, and Pierre LePage behind him, the Cubs could afford to move LeMahieu. They should get a substantial return for him, if it comes to that. If the Cubs wind up trading for a first baseman, LeMahieu could be a key piece of that deal.

Rafael Dolis
Dolis has the distinction of being the only pitcher on this list, but in reality he is standing in for several. Once Jay Jackson shows he is completely healthy, he moves onto this list somewhere. Once Casey Coleman is sent back to Iowa, I think he goes to the top of the list. Thomas Diamond could be listed here instead of Dolis, as could Alberto Cabrera. Now that Chris Carpenter has been converted into a full time reliever, Andrew Cashner and Marcos Mateo have been promoted, and Chris Archer has been traded, the Cubs don’t need to thin out their crop of right handed starters in order to give themselves room to promote more promising starters from the lower minors. However, with Cashner, Trey McNutt and Hayden Simpson sitting firmly on top of the pitching talent charts, I think the pitchers in that next tier would be available in the right deal. Dolis is healthy and off to an excellent start in Tennesee, so he is standing in on this list for that entire crop of right handed pitchers. If the Cubs do trade for a first baseman, at least one pitcher will go in the deal, and Dolis could be that guy.